Born in 1972 in North Philadelphia, Jill Scott grew up in the ghetto with her mother, Joyce, and grandmother. A deeply loved and gifted child, she learned to talk at only eight months and was reading by age four. Always the center of attention, her principal in elementary school described her as a little butterfly.
After running from Jill’s abusive stepfather, mother and child moved in with Jill’s grandmother, with whom she had a very close bond. After a rough but memorable childhood, Scott attended Temple University, studying secondary education. She was planning on becoming a high-school English teacher.
When she was placed at a school as a student-teacher, her fellow professors disapproved of her unique method of teaching the kids: she often incorporated singing and melody in order to help with memorization. Due to the negative comments she was receiving, she quit.
Shortly thereafter, a friend helped her in joining a local theater troop. After some hard work, she earned a spot on the Canadian cast of Rent, began to do poetry readings and befriended some big names in the Philly artistic community, included DJ Jazzy Jeff (DJ Jazzy Jeff). It was here that Scott’s musical career took off.
Encouraged by Jazzy Jeff and Quest Love (Ahmir “Questolove” Thompson) of the hip-hop group The Roots, Scott wrote several songs in only three days during the summer of 1999. One of them, entitled “You Got Me,” was performed by Erykah Badu and The Roots, and won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance (Duo or Group). A few months later, after Jeff burned 100 demo CDs and marketed the soul singer, Jill Scott signed with the new label Hidden Beach. During this whole process and since then, she collaborated with Will Smith and Common, and worked on soundtracks for Down to Earth (2001), Wild Wild West (1999) and In Too Deep (1999)
Amazingly, she made 50 songs for her debut album and had a lot of trouble trimming it down. Finally, after much deliberation, “Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds, Vol. I” was released in July 2000. It featured music that was youthful enough for the younger generation and soulful enough for those above 40.
Accolades came pouring in for her unique contribution to hip-hop: “Who Is Jill Scott?” was certified platinum, and she received three Grammy nominations (including one for Best New Artist), three NAACP Image rewards and one Soul Train Award for Best Female R&B Album. Her fame carried her on stage as she performed on VH1’s Divas Live with Aretha Franklin; speaking of Aretha, Jill Scott was the 2001 recipient of the Aretha Franklin Award as “Entertainer of the Year” at the Lady of Soul Awards.
Never limited to music, Jill Scott is a true multimedia brand across books, clothing, TV and film. Most recently, Jill starred in Get On Up: A James Brown Biopic, as DeeDee, the wife of James Brown. She also starred alongside Tyler Perry & Janet Jackson in the #1 national movie series Why Did I Get Married? (Pt. 1 and 2), Baggage Claim, Steel Magnolias and Sins of the Mother which aired on Lifetime and became the second-most watched premiere in the network’s history. Jill was casted as the lead character in the HBO/BBC mini series filmed on location in Botswana, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, a Peabody Award-winning show directed by the late Oscar Award-winning director Anthony Minghella.
A consummate writer at heart, she penned The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours, a compilation of poems that instantly became a New York Times bestseller. Scott also developed an intimates line for Ashley Stewart and founded Blues Babe, a registered 501(c)3 foundation that has raised over hundreds of thousands dollars to support minority students pursuing college degrees.
Jill recently released her highly anticipated 5th studio album WOMAN on July 24, 2015 which opened on the music charts at #1 giving Jill her 2nd consecutive number one album. After a nationwide sold out tour in Summer 2015, Jill is working on Lionsgate’s Coco and FX’s Snowfall.
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